The Mystery Medal From issue 39 • Words/images: Brett Horton/Horton Collection

The Tour de France presents this medal each year to individuals that have made significant contributions to the betterment of the Tour de France. The medals are striking in appearance, are substantial in size, and are aesthetically very appealing. Recipients come from a myriad of backgrounds and include riders, director sportifs, photographers, and many other areas. Seeing these medals ever leave the hands of the recipients is pretty unusual and I was quite happy to see one show up at a Paris auction.

Medal number 296 was awarded to Raymond Valance in 1974. What is seemingly unknown is the reason for the honor. A rider of modest accomplishment, Valance had a bicycle company in his later years. However, unlike some well-known names, there appears to be no reference of any great champion riding a Valance, which is understandable as the bikes were rather pedestrian. Perhaps it was a different Raymond Valance….

 One of the joys and eternal frustrations of collecting is unraveling the story behind the object.  I look forward to one day discovering the “why” behind this lovely medal.

From issue 39. Buy it here.